The faint whisper of a fanciful world danced through his mind for as long as he could remember. This whisper, though fanciful and nearly impossible to imagine, captured his heart and shaped his desires in the deepest recesses of his soul. He had heard them initially from his nurse. After the dismissal of his nurse came Dr. Cornelius. More savvy than the nurse, Dr. Cornelius found ways to keep the whisper alive and the dream stoked within.
This whisper illuminated a world of peace and perfect harmony. It was a world where the animals spoke, the trees danced and the gallant fought for the good of all. It was a world which captured the Prince’s heart and stoked his deepest longing. It was a world in which the Prince was forbidden to believe. It was, in fact, a world in which all were forbidden to believe.
This forbidden world, kept alive through whisper and hope, was said to have been created by the misfits and rebels. As such it was said to have been a world which never truly existed and could certainly never be achieved. It was a world that existed, if ever at all, long, long before the reign of Miraz the King and the mighty Telmarines.
Of course, you recognize the story as Prince Caspian, from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. It is difficult, one might imagine, to live with the faint whisper of a world in which your heart finds hope yet is forbidden to believe. Truth be told, however, we all live with this whisper of a world in which we long to hope but are reluctant to believe. It is a whisper which illuminates a world of peace, a world of hope. It is a whisper which reminds us that this is not all there is. Indeed, there is more; there is better. There is greater yet to be seen and experienced. It is a world in which our hope resides; our joys one day fulfilled. We often think of this world as one that cannot be achieved, at least not on ‘this side’ of our earthly existence.
IN ALL AND THROUGH ALL
Yet the ancient record reminds us that this whisper of a world is in existence even now. It is a world that can be experienced in real-time. One in which we are able to participate as we live and as we go our way. Our ability to participate in this whisper of a world is uniquely related to our ability to see He who authors the whisper – to see He who is in all thing and through all things. This world is described in Colossians 1. It is a world which drips with the presence of Christ, the King. It is a world into which we are invited to participate with God in his work: “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through and for Him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.”
In this text we face an amazingly wonderful alternative reality, which by in large remains unseen: Christ’s presence is in all things and through all things! Every component of life – all the activities of which life is comprised are opportunities to see, experience and participate with Christ and his work! The problem for us, as it was for Caspian, is that we are ‘seeing with Telmarine eyes.’ Such sight prevents us from seeing this world rightly because it is sight which has been formed, and is now guarded, by a counterfeit king (Miraz) ruling a counterfeit kingdom (Miraz’s rule). Therefore, experiencing this whisper of a world (seeing this alternative reality rightly), may require an escape to the wood where our current world might be expanded and our vision enlarged.
INTO THE WOOD WE GO
In Lewis’ tale, this whisper of a world became an alternative reality when and only when Caspian was forced to escape to the wood. If you remember the story, you know that Caspian’s life was placed in immediate danger upon the birth of a child. The child of Miraz the King. The only hope for Caspian was escape. Escape meant a journey into the fabled haunted forest. It meant a journey into the unknown and a willingness to move forward into a realm in which he had no control and had always been taught to fear. Yet in this wood he would encounter the alternative reality of which he had always dreamt.
In the wood he found that animals did speak and trees did dance. In the wood he found the hope of a world once dashed and the joy of a presence now named. In the wood, and only in the wood, he was awakened to his true identity and the life for which he was destined. In order for Caspian to fully experience and see things rightly – through Narnian rather than Telmarine eyes – he was required to both venture into the wood and embrace the truth that the wood revealed. One or the other would never be enough, the journey would require all!
If Spiritual formation is a life long journey with God for the sake of others, then it might require a venture into the wood and the embrace of the truth revealed. For in the wood we are opened up to a larger world, the one created by God for our existence. In the wood we find our true identity. In the wood we are guided to His greater purpose as we discover God in all things from the mundane to the magnificent!
Journeys demand decisions. Caspian slowed at the entrance of the wood. A decision to make. Either he would venture forward into the world of the unknown which lay out of his control, or he would return to the world he had known and in which he had a sense of self (false self though it may be). He no doubt wondered what he might find and what it would require. Yet he focused on the issue central to the core of his dilemma: ‘would he enter the wood or turn back?’ The answer to this question would determine the journey he would take. Indeed, the answer to this question will determine our own . . .
Disrupting to Renew!